We have previously written about how the criminal justice system ultimately seeks to balance public safety with the rights of those who are accused of criminal wrongdoing. In an attempt to facilitate that balance, legislators and judges often grant law enforcement access to certain kinds of information. Unfortunately, some of this access certainly seems to constitute a serious invasion of privacy.
One kind of access that individuals may not be aware that law enforcement has is access to the utilities records of certain suspects. It is considered to be an unjust invasion of privacy and grounds for evidence suppression by a criminal defense attorney if law enforcement simply tries to gain access to utilities records of anyone they suspect of criminal wrongdoing. Citizens are protected against this kind of intrusion in part by the Colorado Open Records Act.
However, law enforcement who assert that any utilities information request is “reasonably related to an investigation within the scope of the agency’s authority and duties,” are granted an exception to this act. As a result, Colorado law enforcement accessed this kind of information more than 5,000 times in the first six months of this year without first being required to obtain subpoenas or warrants.
When law enforcement assert their exception to the Colorado Open Records Act, they may obtain information about where a suspect works, where a suspect lives and/or who a suspect lives with.
If you are at all concerned that you may be suspected of criminal wrongdoing, do not wait until you are formally arrested to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you navigate your situation and potentially help to shut down an investigation before law enforcement goes digging through your personal information.
Source: Colorado Springs Independent, “Law compels Springs Utilities to give your info to investigators,” Pam Zubeck, July 10, 2013